What does loving yourself mean to you? Having the courage to forgive yourself? Doing what you love? That not everyone will love you and that’s okay? Loving yourself before loving someone else or expecting them to love you? Or is it understanding that the way you appear doesn’t make you any less attractive than anybody else? Every negative part of these questions have gone through my head over the past several years. Between a relationship with someone who doesn’t know how to love and being single in a city so full of beautiful people, I have had to ask myself each and every one of these things about myself.
Let’s start with forgiving yourself. Have you ever done something or been ashamed of something in your past that you haven’t ever been able to forget? I have. There are things that I have said to family members in a moment of weakness or anger that I wish I could take back. If I brought it up to them, they had either forgotten about it or wondered why I brought it up again. But I had to ask them for forgiveness for my own consciousness. Now, have you ever gone against your own morals and done something you think someone in your life will judge you for? Truth is, they will still love you for you and being honest with them will only make them love you more. If they walk away? You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Those things that you’re ashamed of are all in your head. Forgive yourself for those moments and live where you are now in life. Most of the things holding you back are either unknown or forgotten by the people in your present. You are the only one holding yourself back and you need to let yourself be forgiven so that the walls you’ve built up will not prevent you from having strong relationships in the future. The walls I’ve built around myself are because of my past relationship and things that I said or did to make sure he still loved me, things I was ashamed of. I stepped past my own boundaries and morals to see if that would make him love me more or be more attracted to me, and I have had a hard time forgiving myself for those mistakes.
Moving on to doing what you love. Now, for some people doing what you love is more of a hobby than a career or a lifestyle. But if it ever comes down to the choice between doing what you love or submitting to someone else’s expectations that are put on you, what would you do? I can tell you right now that I chose the latter in a past relationship. Some people do that with significant others, sometimes a friend, sometimes their parents. Those are the people that they want to please. The plans those people have for you aren’t always what is going to make you happy. In my past relationship, my ex knew that I wanted to do something in film and possibly act on the side or something. I was still in college when I first started dating him and when he wanted to dive deeper into our relationship, I moved back home so we could be together instead of moving to LA. To anyone who asked, I would say I was putting one dream on hold to pursue another. But I should have moved to LA. Hindsight is 20-20. Once I moved home he tried to get me to pursue a different career so I could live anywhere rather than having to live in a specific location (LA) for a job. He suggested nursing, I chose massage therapy instead. That did not make me happy, but it made him happy that I had something else to make an income and now we could go wherever he wanted to live. It was always about him and what made him happy. So when I decided to move to LA on a whim, things fizzled very quickly, and I’m now here and single in a beautiful city that I love.
What you see in the mirror is not all people look at for attraction. Also, beauty is different from person to person. You must understand that not your weight, nor your hair color, nor your choice of clothing or the funny way your stomach rolls when you sit make you any less attractive. These are all things that we see in the mirror everyday and we are our own worst critics. Life is funny that way. I am beyond blessed to have friends who tell me I am beautiful almost every time I see them. They encourage me in ways that I cannot even fathom sometimes. I changed my hair color so many times to improve how I looked and now I just do it for fun! I would wear heels and dresses because I looked prettier and thought boys would notice me more, but when I decided I wasn’t comfortable in those clothes, I changed my style to what I am comfortable in. I love changing up my style just to see what I like on myself but I only do it for myself, no one else. I have struggled with the idea of being too fat for a very long time. I have never been skinny. The lowest number I remember seeing on a scale is 165. That was probably in high school. My weight has never been something that I am happy with and that’s another thing my ex tried to control in my life. That’s probably what made it so bad for me. As for stomach rolls, I’ve always had those. Even as a kid. Every girl does. It’s because our bodies are flexible and they bend and conform to the way we are bending it so that we aren’t uncomfortable. I’ve learned to love my body shape and know that I am working on being healthier rather than just skinnier. Everything I want to change about myself is just to make me healthier for my own mental stability and I’m not doing it for anyone else. Because if they can’t accept what I look like then they don’t deserve to know me past that. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say that you need to love yourself before trying to love someone else or before they can love you. This is something that I really struggled with for a long time. I never felt like I deserved the love that other people had to offer. When someone tells me that they love me, I question it. Every single time. I don’t care how many times they’ve told me, it’s still a doubt I have in my mind. My ex said “I love you” first. I couldn’t say it back right away. It got caught in my throat. It didn’t make sense to me. Because I didn’t love me. I thought I was weird and didn’t fit in, I didn’t belong with someone who had their life so put together. I wasn’t worthy of being loved by him or anyone. I wasn’t as pretty as his ex girlfriend or as put together with my life. I didn’t know what I wanted in life or where I wanted to go. I was “lazy”. But once I moved away from the normalcy of what the midwest was, I found out that I am definitely weird, but I love that part of me. The people around me are weird and thrive in it. I don’t have my life together but people my age don’t really know what they’re doing either, that doesn’t mean we aren’t successful or won’t be in the future. Being lazy was a choice and I made the conscious choice to change that about myself and get out of the house and go to the gym and hang out with friends or get coffee or write stories, make the connections that got where I am today in my career choices and friendships. I was able to look at myself in the mirror and see the beauty that others always told me I have.I love the person I am becoming and who I am striving to be. I still have things that I struggle with from time to time, but I do love who I am and where I’ve found my worth. Because I am worthy of love. So are you.
Kelsey has been in a number of It's Personal shows, including the current show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Check it out!